Edwin Arlington Robinson (1869-1935) a three-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize, was the first of the great American modernist poets."No poet ever understood loneliness and separateness better than Robinson," James Dickey has observed. Robinson's lyric poems illuminate the hearts and minds of the most unlikely subjects--the downtrodden, the bereft, and the misunderstood. Even while writing in meter and rhyme, he used everyday language with unprecedented power, wit, and sensitivity. With his keen understanding of ordinary people and a gift for harnessing the rhythms of conversational speech, Robinson created the vivid character portraits for which he is best known, among them "Aunt Imogen," "Isaac and Archibald," "Miniver Cheevy," and "Richard Cory." Most of his poems are set in the fictive Tilbury Town--based on his boyhood home of Gardiner, Maine--but his work reaches far beyond its particular locality in its focus on struggle and redemption in human experience.
Edwin Arlington Robinson's finely crafted, formal rhythms mirror the tension the poet sees between life's immutable circumstances and humanity's often tragic attempts to exert control. At once dramatic and witty, his poems lay bare the loneliness and despair of life in genteel small towns ("Tilbury Down" and "The Mill"), the tyranny of love ("Eros Turrannos" and "The Unforgiven"), and unspoken, unnoticed suffering ("The Wandering Jew", and "Isaac and Archibald"). In addition, the fictional characters he created in "Reuben Bright", "Miniver Cheevy", "Richard Cory", and the historical figures he brought to life -- Lincoln in "The Master" and the great painter in "Rembrandt to Rembrandt" -- harbor demons and passions the world treats with indifference or cruelty. With an Introduction that sheds light on Robinson's influence on poets from Eliot and Pound to Frost and Berryman, this collection brings an unjustly neglected poet to new readers.
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